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Alcohol use disorder (AUD) and other forms of substance abuse affect many areas of a person’s life and health. Often, people who misuse substances have been so influenced by their addiction they don’t recognize the need for help. According to Alcohol Research Current Reviews, “Family members can successfully motivate a person with AUD to initiate changes in drinking or to seek AUD treatment.” Family intervention and support are beneficial for individuals diagnosed with substance use disorder (SUD). West Coast Recovery Centers uses evidence-based treatment programs to help individuals and families heal from substance abuse. 

Why Does My Family Member Resist Treatment?

Family members are often the ones reaching out to treatment programs for information or to set up an intake assessment for loved ones struggling with substance abuse. Some families may offer to pay out of pocket or provide other forms of financial support to ensure a loved one has access to treatment. However, in many cases, people with SUD refuse to take advantage of the opportunity and choose to avoid treatment. 

People with SUD have many possible reasons for resisting treatment for alcohol and drug abuse, including: 

  • Ambivalence about treatment or sobriety 
  • Lack of motivation
  • Insurance plans don’t always cover substance use treatment, and programs are often costly
  • Stigmas about treatment or being diagnosed with SUD
  • Past traumatic experiences in treatment 
  • Fear of being judged 

People have many practical and emotional reasons for avoiding treatment. However, professional recovery programs are often the only way to successfully recover from substance abuse. Families can educate and encourage their loved ones to attend treatment with the support of trained mental health professionals. West Coast Recovery Centers can provide guidance and referrals for family interventions. 

Maintaining Realistic Expectations in Your Concern for a Loved One

Families may have unrealistic expectations regarding their loved one’s sobriety or ability to attend treatment. According to a publication by the Institute of Medicine (US), “[I]t is important to develop realistic expectations about what treatment can usefully accomplish.” In other words, rehabilitation programs are not magical cures for substance abuse. 

Family members set realistic expectations by doing the following: 

  • Actively listening to their loved one and the care team 
  • Educating themselves on the realities of addiction 
  • Actively listening to their loved one’s needs

Family therapy is an excellent way to establish healthy communication, ensuring the needs of families and their loved ones are met before and during treatment. Effective communication makes it easier for families to discuss the need for treatment. 

Barriers Your Family Member May Face

Many barriers to treatment may feel like excuses to people watching their loved ones struggle. Some families may believe their loved ones don’t “want it enough” when, in reality, legitimate issues are interfering with their ability to locate or accept help. 

A few common barriers people experience when they decide to get help include:

  • Lack of resources 
  • Family or work obligations
  • Stigma 
  • Fear of the effect it may have on relationships, work, or school 
  • Lack of information about available programs and services 
  • Co-occurring mental health disorders 
  • Uncertainty about the effectiveness of treatment 
  • Mistrust of healthcare professionals
  • Fear of legal repercussions

Stigmas, misinformation, lack of resources, and fear are four reasons people find it challenging to get the treatment they need. Family and friends can help people overcome these barriers by providing education, encouragement, and practical support. 

Encouraging a Family Member to Attend Treatment

Urging family members to attend treatment is a way families assist their loved ones. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), “While there is no one-size-fits-all solution for helping a family member who is drinking too much, using drugs, or dealing with a mental illness, research shows that family support can play a major role in helping a loved one with mental and substance use disorders.” In addition, “[F]amily members can connect those in need with treatment, resources, and services to begin and stay on their recovery journey.”

Family members should feel comfortable discussing challenges their loved one may encounter when seeking treatment. After identifying the most relevant barriers, families can research solutions and provide their loved ones with options for overcoming those challenges. 

Practicing Empathy and Compassion

Empathy and compassion are the two essential ingredients in successful family interventions. Some family members might feel tempted to air their grievances or motivate their loved one using “tough love.” However, many people don’t respond well to overly emotional accusations or ultimatums. Family members can objectively discuss the adverse effects of substance abuse and provide treatment options using empathy and compassion. 

When to Seek Out Professional Interventions

Professional interventions give families access to an addiction recovery specialist with training in helping people transition into treatment. In some cases, mental health or addiction recovery professionals directly play a role in implementing the intervention strategy. Other times, they only provide guidance, and the family holds the intervention independently. Determining the right way to approach an intervention depends on various factors. West Coast Recovery Centers provide families with the information and resources they need to host an effective intervention for loved ones struggling with substance abuse. 

Family members are all affected when a loved one refuses to get treatment for substance abuse and mental health disorders. Often, family members are the ones who reach out to treatment centers or take the steps to get their loved ones information about rehabilitation programs. Family interventions are an excellent tool for ensuring people with substance use disorder get the help they need. West Coast Recovery Centers support families who host interventions for loved ones. The clinical team can provide insights, information, and referrals. Families struggling with addiction are not alone. Our team is here to help. To learn more about our programs and services, call us today at (760) 492-6509.

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